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"Compassion and strategy are evident among the members of the Women's Giving Alliance, who pool their money, creativity and leadership skills to help disadvantaged women and children in the South Lake community." according to Kathy Smith of the Community Foundation of South Lake.

The Women's Giving Alliance of the Community Foundation of South Lake is a traditional giving circle of "like-minded, passionate women" who desire to make a significant difference in their community. Their mission is to inspire women to be strategic philanthropists and to improve the lives of women and children in South Lake County

"The Community Foundation of South Lake recognizes the power of the strong, passionate women and the importance of their collaboration," explained Smith. "We catalyze the collective power of a community of people committed to changing lives of South Lake residents in the long-term."

Members of the Women's Giving Alliance pledge $1,000 each year and receive a vote on how the money will be distributed through the formalized grant process. During the first year of the WGA, the founders decided to front load their endowment to ensure that they were giving in perpetuity.

"Giving is contagious and extremely important. We wanted to make sure that the women and children of South Lake will benefit from our funds forever." explained Cary Carbonaro, Women's Giving Alliance President and Legacy Member.

During the first year, an anonymous donation was made from a WGA member that enabled the group to proceed with a grant cycle and decide as a whole to fund an innovative, measurable program offered through LifeStream Behavioral Center for women who are suffering from mental illness, trauma, or stress.

"Women Opting for Wellness" will serve 20 women who have no other means to receive the help that they need," added Carbonaro.

The Women's Giving Alliance is growing rapidly with nearly 60 members currently committed to the group. The WGA is actively seeking new members to grow this group, in order to maximize the impact of their collective giving.

At their Inaugural WGA Fall Celebration, Rachel Saunders explained to an audience of over 100 women why she joined the WGA by saying "I started seeking out women who were high achievers and who were making a difference in their community. I wanted to be around the people I wanted to become."

The Women's Giving Alliance holds two events annually: a luncheon in the spring and a Grant Award dinner in the fall, both at Bella Collina in Montverde.

Anyone interested in joining the WGA, email Smith at" or call 352-394-3818.

"If you are interested in learning more about this dynamic giving circle, visit," she urged.

The mission of the Community Foundation of South Lake County is to provide leadership to enhance the quality of life in South Lake County by identifying community needs and seeking philanthropic support as permanent funding to meet those needs.

Women's Giving Alliance in South Lake County
is changing women's thinking about philanthropy
women's giving alliance
Women’s Giving Alliance Grant Committee members present a $10,000 grant award to LifeStream Behavioral Center for their Women Opting for Wellness (WOW) Program to serve women in the South Lake community. Shown are Anita Geraci-Carver, WGA founder; Becky Elswick, WGA founder; Sally Hessburg, WGA founder; Karen Rogers, LSBC; Mary Lou Burdette Wiesloszynski, WGA founder; Nancy Gidusko, WGA founding member; Kim Sams, WGA founding member. (Photo by Maggie Krieger)
women's giving alliance
WGA Vice President J.J. Dahl addresses the group during its recent luncheon while guest Stacey Uptain Smith and founding members Aurelia Cole and Kathy Smith look on.
women's giving alliance
women's giving alliance
women's giving alliance
women's giving alliance
Justine Cowan was the day’s keynote speaker at the second meeting of the Women’s Giving Alliance. The alliance uses its member's leadership skills to help disadvantaged women and children (Photo by Maggie Krieger)

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